Pitcher Dave Wickersham Discovered by Hall of Famers Branch Rickey, George Sisler

Pitcher Dave Wickersham’s career began with the greatest expectations. Instead of being promised the moon by some amateur scout, two baseball giants scouted the young hurler. Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler and fabled general manager Branch Rickey convinced Wickersham to try the Pirates organization, signing him in 1955.

Wickersham remembered:

“Branch Rickey started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and had the best mind of anyone I’ve ever met. A wonderful man. I really did not get to know George Sisler. He seemed very humble.”

 The budding moundsman shared Rickey’s faith and beliefs. That translated to honesty and humility in every mound meeting with concerned coaches. Wickersham wrote:

Tomorrow: relive the epic FIRST-PERSON story of how an impulsive umpire deprived Wickersham of his only 20-win opportunity.

“I never argued with a manager. Sometimes, they would ask how I felt. It was always, ‘Good!’ Only once when I said that did we lose in late innings.”

Red Sox Pitcher Dave Sisler Spanked the Yanks

Pitcher Dave Sisler defied 1950s norms. More than one reporter chose to describe him as a bespectacled Princeton grad. The former hurler (who, says my wife, had a Clark Kent look going with his dignified glasses) provided some short, sweet answers to his tidy career.

In 1956 at Yankee Stadium, Sisler crafted a 10-inning win against Boston’s arch rivals. Judging from Sisler’s upper case reply, it must have been a good day spanking the Yanks.

“LOVED THE WHOLE THING. Made me 9 and 8.”

Sisler’s 1958 shutout versus Detroit, outdistancing future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning in front of the Fenway Park faithful…was that his sharpest game ever?

“No. Pitched a near no-hitter in Cleveland.”

(True story. See the details, thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/!)
As an eight-year-old attendee at that fabled 1939 induction ceremony in Cooperstown, Sisler cited one memory of that amazing collection of talent (including George Sisler, one Hall of Fame-inducted Dad):

“Meeting all those players.”

Check out the awesome photo of the 11 living HOFers who attended that day in Cooperstown. Sisler’s Dad is back row, second from right, just before Walter Johnson!

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